PostHeaderIcon All Users: Please Tell Us You Are breaking The Rules. Please?

If you have been following the Slogosphere the last couple days (of course you have, you're reading this SLog, aren't you?) then you are surely aware that Linden Lab has added a new preference to your Second Life account via your preferences page at Second Life dot com.

This new preference is something Jack Linden mentioned way back when in his posted announcing the policy threatening all SL Residents of being banned from search results if they "game traffic" via the use of "scripted agents" (a.k.a. "bots") or "camping devices". In that post, Jack mentioned the idea if allowing user to set a preference in their 'bot' accounts that would identify them as bots (group-inviter, clothing models, etc.) - and therefor not count in system traffic statistics.

At first blush, this is a great idea.

I noticed the original OSLB (Official Second Life Blog) post that finally announces the availability of this new preference early-on and no one had yet asked the question that suddenly ran through my mind:
Oct 21, 2009 1:25 PM
Ari Blackthorne says:
Does this mean I can set my regular every-day use normal account to also act as a "scripted agent" and then everywhere I go my activity will NOT count toward their traffic - even though I am using the account 'normally'?
I know it sounds like I am being sarcastic - but it's a serious question! Really! (I am genuinely curious)
Of course at this point nothing happens when you set this preference, other than some field in the database is turned from a 0 into a 1. How Linden Lab will eventually use that field is anyone's guess right now, though Surname Lindens have been suggesting or reacting to suggestions that these accounts be visually identifiable on the grid proper. Some suggestions have been to change the color of name tags and even add additional text to them, much the same way as the Emerald and other after-market viewers do to identify the viewer a user is connected to the grid with.

But right now, it's still just an ineffectual exercise, as Tateru Nino makes clear at Massively:
"[...] it's sort of like being asked 'Would all citizens who have firearms and do not use them to break the law, please leave your name at your local police-station.' That is, there doesn't seem anything actually wrong with the idea, but you've got to wonder why it is being asked at this time."
Some of the comments that appeared after mine are fascinating as well, things I admittedly didn't think of, like this one that was posted immediately in answer to mine:
Mackenzie Ariel says in response to Ari Blackthorne:
That would be great Ari - not only can the cheaters pad their traffic with ILLEGAL bots and alts that they WON'T register but they could register themselves so that any place they go they won't be counted as traffic for someone elses place. They get THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS!!
Yes, this one did occur to me and Ms. Mackenzie makes the most important point of all: the cheaters will cheat always. The preference is voluntary and thus, they the cheaters won't set it. As for some applying my question to their own accounts, Tateru gives what is among the best reasons for doing this:
[...] teachers and site staff would like their own time on parcels not to get tangled up with actual traffic figures from visitors, students and guests, so that their own traffic metrics are more useful to them.
Again, I would refer them to a "greeter" or other traffic-counting device as they are more flexible, many able to ignore the owner and anyone on a "white list" and some even able to count the length of time a visitor stays along with other data.

Ooh, and then there was this:
Ceka Cianci says in response to Mackenzie Ariel:
The thing i would see being a problem with people setting their main accounts they use as a scripted bot and going to other places is this..If you are indicated as a bot with some sort of tag that comes with the identifying proccess..It is going to be pretty easy to spot you out in my business..People are gonna be like.. What the heck is this bot doing that i don't own walking around my store for?
Maybe it's a copybot hehehe..Ban hammer it and get it out of here!! Spread the word this bot is out roaming stores..
Okay that's a real good 'yikes' factor. Then  there are comments suggesting the ability to 'ban' these bot accounts from entering parcels (as part of the parcel preferences) as there is no reason for a bot to be traveling around the grid, save for those "land-bots" that run around buying and reselling virtual land. I actually concur with this. There is no legitimate reason a genuine bot should come to my place.

Of course there are the boneheaded traffic-gamers who try to operate under the guise of "group-inviter" or "models" (what the hell reason is a bot needed to model furniture for? If I want to see what poses are included, I'll use the furniture myself. Obvious traffic-gamers.) who are now splitting hairs over the term "scripted agent". Not only are they laughable, but also quite deeply pathetic.

Warning...dip-shit alert:
Phil Deakins says:
"Scripted agents" is a very poor term to use for what Jack possibly means. So poor, in fact, that many store models aren't scripted at all - they are just on poseballs. For instance, I have 4 demo models in my store. They are on poseballs on furnutire, and people can use the furniture menus to see the animations that are in it - the models perform the animations. They are not "scripted agents" - they are not scripted at all, and could never be reasonably described as such. They do fit some people's idea of bots, especially since they are logged in using OpenMetaverse but they could be logged in on viewers and be just like any other agent because the keyboard would be manned. (That how they used to be)
So it's not altogether clear what Jack intends to mean by "scripted agents". It's clear what scripted agents are but it's not clear if he intends that other agent types are included.
Wait... are you serious, Phil? Do you really assume everyone on the grid and the Surname Lindens in-particular are that stupid? I hope people who see your set-up choose to TP away and spread the word how shady and unscrupulous you really are.

The simple fact of the matter is that gamers will game no matter what. This comment, pithy and to the point says it all:
Itazura Radio says:
/me waits patiently for the first person who decides to make a bot army so they can plant them around their competitor's sim to max it out without adding to their traffic.
 /me sighs.

True. So true.

The problem, as many have been saying since the beginning of SL time is that there is a traffic count appearing is search result listings to begin with. All Linden Lab needs do is remove that statistic from participating in the ranking or sorting of the search results. It's that simple, really.

One way to do it is to leave things status quo - just don't show the traffic number in the listings. Keep that number private by only allowing it to be displayed in the "about Land" widget. That way, the number itself won't be a major influential factor in the search result listings and these traffic gamers might actually ease-up on their efforts. Yes, they still will game traffic, but it will be far more difficult for them as they cannot see everyone else's traffic via a simple search result list.

Hey... that's a good idea. Maybe I should put in a JIRA project suggesting that. Nah - too many JIRA projects, it will get lost. But I think I will make that suggestion in the thread right now!

/me bails on you,, leaving you standing where you are as he runs full-steam toward the OSLB to post a comment reply...

Even though I spotted the original Linden Lab blog post and commented long before I saw Tateru's article, I want to give her credit for the original story:

source: Second Life users can flag accounts as bots, to no effect - Massively
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